May 2018

Latest in Illinois Gun Rights

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Gun rights have been a hot topic in the news for over the past year. Unfortunately, it is a topic of hot debate because of the number of mass shootings that have occurred across the United States. Just last week it was huge in the news for Illinois as a shooter was apprehended in Dixon, Illinois. Even more recently, the Illinois House approved a plan allowing six-moth suspension of gun rights for people showing "red flags."

Illinois judges would have discretion to temporarily suspend the gun rights of someone who displays violent warning signs. However, this meaning that family members, housemates or police must first seek court intervention. The proponents of the bill argue that the legislation is a means to prevent mass shootings and other common gun-related deaths. Opponents, however, are questioning whether it is necessary and whether it would interfere with law-abiding gun owners' civil liberties.

Representatives in support of the bill said that the measure would create a way to prevent gun violence before it occurs by getting the guns from someone who raises "red flags." Some of these "red flags" that would be considered is posts on social media or threatening remarks. In addition, families and friends of people who show signs of mental illness or distress are often left feeling powerless and this would put them in a situation where they could enable the person to get help without feeling as if the person would get arrested. Proponents are pleading not to look at this bill as a gun bill but look at what the bills does not what you think it is going to do.

This measure comes as state lawmakers are considering several other gun control initiatives to stem violence in the state. Earlier that day, lawmakers also considered several of Governor Bruce Rauner's safety proposals such as creating a 72-hour "cooling-off" period for purchasing an assault weapon which already applies to handguns. Also, the Governor proposed bringing back the death penalty for people who kill more than one person or kill police officers. Governor Rauner also wants to create new ways for local schools to get more armed security and mental health professionals on staff. This definitely hits home after the events in Dixon, Illinois last week where a security guard took down a gunman that was present at the high school. It will be interesting to see what changes are made.

-Attorney Kendall Hodges


Creation, Destruction, and Retaliatory Discharge

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Law changes. Laws themselves are added and removed by the legislature, "schoolhouse rock" style, of course. Regulations are implemented. Courts interpret and reinterpret those laws and regulation, adding their own explicit and implicit threads to the tapestry of The Law. Judicial decisions are handed down that alter the landscape of legal rights and responsibilities.

And sometimes, unfortunately, they don't.

Such is the case of Edward Nance's case against Comcast Business Communications, Inc. in the Eastern Division of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which came to a regrettable end on May 8th, 2018. Mr. Nance alleged that Comcast terminated his employment as a result of his attempts to collect disability payments during a period of injury in 2016 and 2017. Notably, it seems that this wasn't a worker's compensation injury-Edward hurt his shoulder while off-duty and required a significant period off work during which he repeatedly attempted to collect on the short-term disability benefits to which he was contractually entitled.

Illinois is an at-will employment state, but the courts have carved out an exception when retaliatory terminations violate a clear mandate of public policy. Edward's initial complaint alleged that he was wrongfully discharged for one of two reasons: either because of a policy against retaliating against employees trying to assert contractual disability benefits; or because of a policy against retaliating against employees under doctor's orders not to return to work.

The problem with both of Mr. Nance's claims is that Illinois courts have only recognized two very specific public policy mandates which are clear enough and significant enough to override that underlying principle of at-will employment (outside of the existing laws about civil rights discrimination and harassment, etc.): retaliating based on the exercise of rights under the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act; and retaliation for reporting illegal or improper conduct or "whistleblowing." The Federal District court ruling on Mr. Nance's claims found that he had not brought enough to the table to justify the creation of a third grounds for retaliatory discharge, and thus dismissed his claim.

Now this was a Federal court, so they are explicitly more conservative against creating rights stemming from Illinois Law. It's perfectly possible that, someday soon, the Illinois Supreme Court will get the right case for the creation of another type of retaliatory discharge. It could very well come from you and us. It just didn't come from Edward Nance.

-Attorney Travis J. Dunn


WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT

Friday, May 4th, 2018

The Workers' Compensation Act is controlled by your legislators. The people you elect into office should have a firm grasp on the issues that affect your day to day life. That includes workers compensation. Injuries at work happen unexpectedly daily. No one goes into their daily life expecting to only receive 2/3 of their wage - weekly in the case of injury.

Your legislators do not have a firm grasp of the intricacies of the work comp system in Illinois. Unfortunately, many of our legislators are under the impression that further cutting work comp settlements and benefits for Petitioners is in the best interest of the State of Illinois. The insurance companies, on the other hand, continue to increase premiums and decrease settlements to Petitioner. It should be the people of Illinois who benefit from the laws created to govern them - not big business.

Tell your legislators to vote to cut insurance company premiums for work comp and vote to uphold work comp Petitioners' rights.

-Attorney Alexis P. Ferracuti